A year ago, Bucher + Suter committed to Pledge 1%, to give more back to the communities we’re a part of, and to start viewing more of our activities through a lens of social responsibility. A year ago, the b+s PLUS program was born.
There have been successes, there have been challenges, and there have been failures. There’s a lot still to do – but it feels like we’re on the right path!
This blog serves as a record of where we are right now, where we want to get to, and how we plan to get there. While, as an organization, Pledge 1% does not audit and does not require us to report our progress, they encourage each company to take ownership of their program’s success. So, it feels right and fair that we take accountability for the things we’ve managed and that that still proves out of reach.
The b+s PLUS program is tied to 3 pillars of Pledge 1%: Time, Profit, and Product. So, let’s explore our commitments and our progress regarding all 3:
Commitment: 1 – 3% of profit split between NFPOs and the sponsorship of Noser Young apprentices’ education
The reality is that giving up 1% of our annual profit was something we had long achieved at Bucher + Suter. In fact – it’s been beyond 3% every year for the last ten years. When the PLUS task force was assembled, it wasn’t because the members felt that Bucher + Suter needed to do considerably more giving back across the three pillars – it was because we wanted to give back in a more orchestrated manner, avoid siloed endeavors, and get better at recording our successes (and failures) when it comes to corporate social responsibility.
Given the nature of a new program and the importance of reaching for low-hanging fruit in building momentum, the task force proposed remaining committed to 1-3% of our profit. The idea being that we should concentrate our energies on making sure that we grow the program in the areas we’ve been less focused on – giving up our time and products. It may seem like a cop-out, but being able to focus on the things we haven’t been doing at all has allowed the program to gather pace in a way it wouldn’t have if we’d force-increased our profit commitment.
Every event we’ve sponsored so far this year has been influenced by the b+s PLUS program and our profit-giving pillar. From charity donations on behalf of our booth visitors to bikes bought (and then built by our very hands. See: Giving Time) for underprivileged kids and planting trees for those willing to give up some time for a chat and a demo, we’re making sustainable giving part of our participation at events – as standard.
One year on: In the last year, Bucher + Suter has given well in excess of its profit-giving goal to various charities on behalf of our customers and through sponsoring the education of Noser Young apprentices. As we look into the next year of the program, we will strive to maintain our commitments, and we remain ever on the lookout for charities and organizations making a difference on a local and international level.
Commitment: 1% of company time donated to NFPOs and local community organizations in company teams or individually.
Since the inception of the b+s PLUS program, each Bucher + Suiter employee is granted two days of VTO per year. The commitment to pledge 1% of our time has proved ultimately more challenging than giving up profits from the company, and the primary reasons were two-fold:
- Inherently, more work is involved in organizing VTO than handing over money or paid-for physical items. Whether it be active employee engagement to encourage and educate around individual VTO or organizing full-day events for multiple staff members, the Time pillar is, by its very nature, more time-intensive than the other two pillars. However, as you’ll see summarized below, it is what we, as employees, take the most from.
- There’s also been a difficulty in finding organizations to work with. This issue has been somewhat localized. As Bucher + Suter has three distinct global offices: headquarters in Switzerland, an office in Germany, and one in Colorado, USA – we’ve had to organize events at a local level – for our local employees. Switzerland has proven more complicated than we anticipated – and running VTO days in Switzerland has proven somewhat complex, bureaucratic, and expensive. Contrary to that, organizing VTO in the States has proven relatively straightforward. Many organizations are open to help, and volunteering seems to be more widely engrained in US society. Indeed, more than 50% of our US employees (all of whom work remotely, making team events slightly more challenging to organize) already volunteered at an individual level.
As mentioned above, a significant number of people at Bucher + Suter have been regularly involved in individual volunteering since well before the birth of the program. The difference now is that, as part of the program, they’re paid by Bucher + Suter for some of that volunteering – if they so choose. From snow sports trips for kids and people with disabilities to guided cycling for people with visual impairment and helping out at food banks and soup kitchens – there was a wide array of volunteering activities already being undertaken by Bucher + Suter staff members.
The vast majority of people involved in individual VTO this past year were already volunteering on their own. Some work remains for us to encourage, educate, and help mobilize those who are interested but haven’t quite taken the step yet.
At the program’s birth, the marketing team collaborated with Caritas Switzerland for a farm mountain mission. They experienced the mountain farm lifestyle, partaking in labor-intensive tasks like spreading cow manure and erecting fences. Despite the physical challenges and a few comical mishaps, the team left with an appreciation for Alpine farming and the importance of Swiss mountain maintenance. Their journey culminated in a deeper connection with one another, a sense of accomplishment, and a fierce commitment to the Pledge 1% initiative.
In November, Bucher + Suter employees from our Bensheim office took part in a VTO day at the Drachenberge local community adventure park, run by the Sterntaler non-profit association. Braving challenging weather, the team assisted in constructing walls and other maintenance tasks for the park, which aims to offer experiential learning for local youths. The day, which ended with drinks, reflections, and camaraderie, underlined the importance of community service and the pleasure derived from it.
On June 4th in Las Vegas, the Bucher + Suter team converged for a special VTO day, where they participated in two different activities, working with two different local Vegas organizations. The morning began with assembling 15 bikes for the local community in partnership with Bikes for Goodness Sake. Despite challenges like missing toolkits, the team’s resourcefulness ensured that most bikes were nearly complete before the professional mechanics arrived to check them over and give them a seal of approval. These bikes were then donated to the Stupak Community Center, a hub of resources for local children. In the afternoon, the team collaborated with the Nevada Partnership for Homeless Youth (NPHY) to transport school supplies for NPHY’s annual Education Drive. The day underscored the significance of community involvement and companies’ impact on supporting and uplifting those in need. The Bucher + Suter team remains dedicated to making positive change, emphasizing the daily opportunities to make a difference in the world.
Additionally, during our festive meet-up in the States last year, our employees helped deliver hearing tests to older people with the wonderful charity Songs for Sound in Nashville, Tennessee.
If you know of organizations based in Switzerland, Germany, or the US that could make good use of our time in some capacity, please reach out to email@example.com.
One year on: The truth is – we’re nowhere close to our target of 1% of staff time donated. Complications around organizing team events, especially in Switzerland, where the majority of our staff reside, and what we’ve recently realized has been a lack of internal education and guidance from the PLUS task force, mean we have a lot of work to do. However, the good fight continues – because we know that giving up our time to good causes has benefits all round. Empowering, organizing, and promoting as much participation as possible remains our goal.
Commitment: 1% of our product licenses should be given out for free
While Bucher + Suter is a partner, reseller, and managed service provider of Cisco, we also have our own in-house development, producing industry-leading applications for the Webex and Cisco Contact Center platforms, including our flagship line of CRM connectors: b+s Connects. It’s the licenses of those products that we’d like to give to non-profit organizations – helping them to streamline and personalize their service at the point of interaction and helping their contact center agent teams run as efficiently as possible.
Giving product remains, by far, the most challenging of the three pillars. Communication with TechSoup and Salesforce for Nonprofits has, until now, yet to lead to anything, and we get relatively few inquiries directly from NPOs.
We’ve given away our product in the past, giving all types of businesses and organizations burst licenses to help them cope under the strain of peak contact during the COVID-19 pandemic but to date – we’re yet to bring a charity or NPO on board, as part of our Pledge. 2 conversations with two large non-profits remain ongoing. We hope to have some positive news on that front soon, but we need to find a way to achieve better outreach.
We must better promote our solutions to non-profits and show how they can help them solve their organizational challenges in the contact center. Work is underway to dedicate a page of the website to non-profits to help with messaging and active outreach through our technology partners continues, but again – we’re closer to the start than we’d like.
One year on: We honestly thought that giving up our product would be pretty straightforward – but so far, we’re struggling with this pillar. A lot of work remains, not least in the area of marketing, but we’re up to it and have an extensive network and community that we know can help match us with organizations in need. If you know of or work for an organization using Cisco or Webex Contact Center and think that running a more efficient contact center could be of benefit, get in touch with us at firstname.lastname@example.org
So, in summary, it’s been a dynamic and fluctuating inaugural year for the PLUS program and our commitment to Pledge 1%. There’s plenty to do as we look to the year ahead, but the main thing is we’re started, dedicated, and have backing across the breadth of the company to continue pursuing our commitments.
For more information on the b+s PLUS program or for inquiries regarding the availability of our time or products, please reach out to email@example.com or fill out the contact form below.